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2018 Craft Trend Fair hopes to boost sales

Nov 20,2018
A metal tape dispenser made by university student Lee Jun-hee, who has a booth at the 2018 Craft Trend Fair. [KCDF]
The country’s largest craftwork festivity of the year, the Craft Trend Fair, will open this Thursday at Coex, southern Seoul, and run through Sunday evening. Featuring 1,600 craftsmen and 300 craft companies and workshops, the fair is set to include a diverse pool of crafts and artists, according to the Korea Craft and Design Foundation (KCDF).

“This is the fair’s 13th year, and both the numbers and reaction [from people] prove that the event is improving,” said KCDF Director Choi Bong-hyun. “Yet, we have a chronic problem in the crafts world that needs to be addressed. We need to find balance between supply and demand business-wise for sustainable growth in the field. We believe that is what the fair is for.”

To achieve this goal, this year’s fair focuses on presenting a more realistic and approachable side of craft to the visitors. Rather than hosting a large artistic exhibition with an abstract theme, KCDF decided to reduce the size of the main exhibit to give more space to the vendors.

This year the industrial zone will have 20 percent more booths than last year, along with the usual number of booths within the incubating and premium zones. While the incubating zone will target younger visitors with cheaper goods, the premium zone will feature high-end masterwork from renowned names in the field from both Korea and abroad.

“We have put on a lot of projects to help support people working in the crafts field,” said Choi. “But we have also found out that the whole point of the support system fails if we cannot get people to actually buy the things that people make. So for this fair and for the long-term growth of the crafts field, we believe it’s important to build a culture where consumption grows alongside production.”

According to KCDF, the fair has seen growth both in the number of visitors and sales made during the fair. The number of visitors rose from 50,308 in 2015, to 51,327 in 2016 and 51,680 last year. The organizer hopes to see 60,000 visitors this year.

The amount of sales made within the fair has also grown since 2015. A total of 594 million won’s ($527.3 thousand) worth of goods were bought on site in 2015, and a total of 905 million won in sales were made last year. Organizers remain hopeful that the number will continue to grow this year.

“We used to think that the main buyers of craft works were women in their 50s to 60s, who come to buy things to put around the house,” said Choi. “These days, however, the people who visit and buy the most at the fair turn out to be younger women, especially under the age of 35. The trend is changing, and the craft field also needs to adjust to that atmosphere.”

The main exhibit is being directed by designer Jung Ku-ho, who sheds light on the future of craft that takes its roots on the traditions. The exhibit will also be shown at the 2019 Milan Design Week.

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]

The Craft Trend Fair 2018 takes place at Hall C of Coex, open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Thursday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Get off at Samseong Station, line No.2, or Bongeunsa Station, line No.9. Admission is 8,000 won. For more information, visit www.kcdf.kr or call (02) 398-7972